If you’re in need of legal help, the prospect of hiring a lawyer can be intimidating. How do you know which attorney to hire? What questions should you ask? What are your rights as a client? To make the process easier, here are 10 questions you should ask every lawyer before hiring them, as well as answers to these questions that every good lawyer will give you.
Remember that it’s in the best interest of any lawyer you’re interviewing to tell you what you want to hear; they have to sell themselves just like anyone else.
1) What are the qualifications of a good lawyer?
When hiring a lawyer, there are several qualities to look for. The most important qualification is specialization. Finding an attorney who specializes in your legal area is imperative because they will be able to provide you with superior service.
2) Can I get legal help online?
In general, online legal forms are useful only for very simple legal matters. All state bar associations regulate lawyers and law firms. Therefore, you need to check that your chosen lawyer is registered with his or her state’s bar association and is authorized to practice law in your area.
3) Do I need a lawyer at all stages of my case?
The best lawyers can guide you through each stage of your case, but that doesn’t mean you need them in every phase. It’s up to you and your attorney to figure out how much involvement they should have at each stage.
You could, for example, find an excellent lawyer to handle your negotiations while another firm handles your trial. The important thing is to be able to trust that whomever you hire knows what they’re doing.
4) What happens in the first meeting with my lawyer?
This is probably one of your most common questions. The first meeting is essentially a meet and greet, where your lawyer will learn about you, what’s important to you and why you’re hiring him/her.
They will also ask you to describe in detail what sort of outcome you’re seeking. From there, they can advise on how much it would cost to get that result and whether or not that price fits within your budget.
5) What are the cost and payment options for legal services?
When you retain an attorney, they will usually tell you upfront what it will cost to have them represent you and what payment options they accept. However, if they don’t tell you upfront or don’t have standard billing methods, it may be a red flag that there are extra fees coming your way at some point in time.
Some attorneys will charge for their services by their hourly rate. But other attorneys might charge for each court appearance or meeting with clients.
6) When should I contact my lawyer?
As soon as you think you might need legal help, contact your lawyer. If it’s an emergency and someone’s been injured or is in danger, contact your lawyer immediately.
If you aren’t sure if you need legal help, get advice right away so that you don’t lose valuable time or miss deadlines when hiring your lawyer. Contacting a lawyer isn’t going to hurt – but not contacting one when you should damage your legal rights.
7) Who is the best person to contact if I have questions about my case but want someone else to do it for me?
If you want to reach out to someone at your firm but need someone else to do it for you, we can reach out and ask them any questions you have. To contact us directly, email or give us a call (contact information located on our website).
8) What happens when I fire my lawyer or law firm?
If you decide to end your relationship with your lawyer or law firm, you should know that there’s usually no cooling-off period during which you cannot be sued. Instead, when you fire a lawyer, he or she is permitted to take whatever legal action is necessary against you—including filing suit.
9) What can I do if I cannot afford to hire an attorney now, but may be able to in the future.
You can enter into an agreement with an attorney to pay them once you are able to afford their services. In many cases, attorneys will waive fees or offer payment plans if they feel you will be able to afford their services within a reasonable time frame.
Keep in mind that once you have started working with an attorney, under New York Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(b), most attorneys are prohibited from representing other clients without your permission when there is another attorney involved in your case.
10) Is there anything else you would like me to know before getting started with my case?
You should ask your lawyer if you need to submit any paperwork or fill out forms before starting with your case. The legal process is going to cost you money; it is important that you are aware of what these fees will be upfront. You should ask about the cost as soon as possible.